Wharf restaurants win temporary reprieve from parking changes

Frustrated Fisherman’s Wharf restaurateurs will temporarily continue operating a triangular parking lot, but the Port of San Francisco is forging ahead with a plan to hand control of the lot to a new operator, which will increase parking fees.

Port commissioners were recently poised to approve a contract with a parking lot operator that would see Port revenue from the 286-car parking lot — which is between Taylor and Jefferson streets and The Embarcadero — more than triple to at least $97,000 per month.

But a coalition of 11 surrounding restaurants that has operated the lot since the early 1980s stalled the vote by arguing that Commission President Rodney Fong should not have participated in a Sept. 8 vote related to the bidding process because he operates a wax museum in the neighborhood.

The restaurants told commissioners that they fear the plans to increase parking rates will make it more difficult for their customers to park for free in the lot.

Last week, Port commissioners rescinded the Sept. 8 vote and cast new votes, in which Fong did not participate, authorizing staff to solicit new bids from companies interested in operating the lot.

Nick’s Lighthouse restaurant owner Jeffrey Pollack asked commissioners last week to hold a hearing with local restaurants into the Port’s plans for the parking lot, but his request was ignored.

The Port’s leasing manager, Jeffrey Bauer, told commissioners before their vote that the new operator will be required to offer some free parking to restaurant customers.

The free parking program will be broadened to benefit other businesses in the neighborhood, according to Bauer.

“We’re looking to modernize the lot,” Bauer said.
 

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